Breeding and raising goats can be both fun and complicated. Like with the young of almost every animal, the first few days of a baby goat’s life are extremely crucial to its survival. So, when can a baby goat go outside? It needs its mother, but it also needs to be kept warm and safe from other animals and the weather.
However, since goats are social creatures, keeping a kid in isolation might be detrimental to its mental health. The goat kid needs to go out to play and browse and forage among the other goats.
Let’s take a quick look at this and how you can best care for your baby goats, including what temperature do baby goats need.
When Can Baby Goats Go Outside?
Most baby goats can go outside and play in the elements when they are two weeks old but be mindful of the temperature. These cute little furry creatures are too fragile and susceptible to the elements before then. Baby goats younger than two weeks can easily catch hypothermia within an hour if left unattended in temperatures under 40 degrees F (4 degrees C).
To keep themselves warm, baby goats need to jump up and down and run around. Regardless of how well insulated, the goat barn isn’t warm enough for baby goats to survive during extremely cold temperatures. Also, some goat breeds are smaller than others. Imagine teeny tiny baby goat kids running around outside while less than 14 days old.
Tips on How to Keep Baby Goats Warm
You can take several steps to keep your baby goats warm and safe. The first and most obvious step is to let them nurse next to their mothers. However, no matter how caring the mother is, baby goats can catch hypothermia in extremely low temperatures. As such, additional steps must be taken to make their living quarters more favorable to them.
Keep Their Shelters Dry and Warm
Goats of any age can get cold, sick, and even succumb to the elements if they stay wet. Therefore, it’s extremely important to ensure that your baby goats have a shelter within which they can stay and remain warm and dry. Consider a heat lamp for baby goats if the shelter has drafts.
Hypothermia is dangerous for any living creature. This is when the body’s core temperature falls below its normal temperature. Once that happens, the vital organs start shutting down and stop functioning as normal. Without immediate intervention, hypothermia can lead to death.
Cold temperatures and wet conditions are perfect for catching hypothermia in goats, especially baby goats. Depending on the breed, kids may have a thick layer of fur that temporarily protects them from the wet and the cold.
However, once the water soaks through that initial layer of protection, it gets to the skin, and this causes them to shiver and eventually develop hypothermia if the situation isn’t corrected. Several signs might indicate hypothermia in baby goats, including acting lethargic and being extremely cold to the touch.
Whenever you notice these signs, your goats may be suffering from hypothermia, and it’s extremely important to take them someplace warm and dry immediately.
Raise Their Sleeping Area Off the Ground
Cold air tends to settle down at ground level, which is exactly where your baby goats may be laying down and attempting to stay warm. This can cause them to catch hypothermia as they endure the cold air all night long.
One of the best ways to keep this from happening is to give them a raised sleeping area. There are two good reasons why this is a wonderful idea:
- A raised sleeping area is off the ground, and the cold air
- Warmer air tends to rise higher than cold air, which means that the goats might enjoy some level of increased warmth in a raised sleeping bed
Raising the sleeping area for your goats doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as laying down a few wood pallets on which your goats can climb and sleep. Goats are natural climbers, even baby goats, and this raised bed will give them something to jump onto as they go to sleep.
Insulate the Raised Sleeping Area
To make things even better and warmer for your goats, you can insulate their sleeping area. After all, a hard wooden sleeping area, albeit raised, might not be that much better than the cold, hard ground.
One of the best ways to improve your goat’s living quarters is to provide them with some kind of insulation to go with the raised sleeping area. This can be as simple as laying down some straw.
While this kind of insulation is excellent because it provides the goats with warmth and comfort, it makes your work harder. You will need to clean the goat’s sleeping area more, as goats can really make a mess.
If you leave soiled bedding in them for too long, it might get moldy and eventually compromise the circulation. It’s therefore important to have this bedding removed and replaced with fresh straw as often as possible.
Every two or three days should do the trick, depending on the season. In winter, your adult goats and baby goats will be indoors more than usual, and their sleeping quarters will need more frequent cleaning.
Keep Goats Well Fed
Baby goats have several ways through which they can generate additional heat. They can:
- Jump and run around
- Snuggle up to their mothers when they lie down
- Live in a warm and dry shelter
Another way they can generate additional heat is by eating and staying well-fed. How much and what do goats eat? In general, goats eat up to 4% of their own body weight and, as such, need to be fed frequently. The same goes for baby goats, although the food could differ depending on their age.
The best way to keep them well-fed is to allow them to suckle on mother goat milk and colostrum as much as possible, which calls for keeping the mother goat well fed. Another way is feeding them through the bottle with a milk replacer or goat’s milk. Bottle feeding is something you would have to do yourself. This is a good way to achieve two things:
- Keep the newborn goat well-fed
- Feel their body temperature through touch (as mentioned, if the baby goats are cold to the touch, they might be developing hypothermia)
When Can I Let Baby Goats Outside
Whether they are baby bottle goats or nursed from their mother, keep baby goats indoors until they at least 2 weeks old. Consider also the weather and what temperature can baby goats tolerate. It should not be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s important to note as a goat owner that goat babies need exercise to develop their muscles and bone structure. You need to let them play outside as often as possible. This can be difficult to do when it’s extremely cold, especially for smaller goat breeds such as pygmy goats, nubian goats and Nigerian dwarf goats.
However, once your baby goats get to two weeks old, they can safely go outside. If it’s too cold, you can provide them with extra protection by bringing them inside and keeping them next to a heat lamp to help regulate their body temperature. Your baby goat can go outside as much as they need to once they get to two weeks of age.
Whether you are raising goats for profit or enjoying them on a smaller scale on your farm for milk, meat or as pets, learn more about baby goat care so they are safe and healthy.